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Farms and Ranches

From the mid 1860s to the beginning of World War II, Kansas' economic focus was on agriculture and livestock. Archeological artifacts from ranches and farms try to address such questions as where did these people come from, where did they settle, what were their buildings like, and how did they make their living. Archeological artifacts typical of this period that are available for research include large collections from the Hudson farmstead (14GR346), the Simair farmstead (14GR354), the Johnson/Williams dugout (14GH102), the Mahaffie house (14JO356), the Martin farmstead (14RP322), the Cottonwood Ranch (14SD327), and a dairy (14WN362).  Many smaller collections are also available. 

Sewing Machine base from Graham County

This sewing machine was recovered during the excavation of the Johnson/Williams dugout in Graham County.  The pedal still works and the wheel can turn.






Daisy Fly Trap recovered from Sheridan County

Flies...they can be such a pest. The folks who lived at the Cottonwood Ranch in Sheridan County used a Daisy Fly Killer trap to help combat the constant problem. As the label tells us, its active ingredient was arsenic so surely it must have packed a deadly dose.










Toys recovered from Greenwood County

There was time for children to play on the early farms and ranches. This collection of marbles and doll parts was recovered from the Simiar farmstead in Greenwood County.






Benjamin Franklin good luck token Farming and ranching were often a gamble so perhaps some help from a good luck charm was needed. One side of this charm proclaims it to be a "BENJAMIN FRANKLIN GOOD LUCK CHARM." The other side advises "A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED." The charm was recovered from a dairy in Wilson County.


Resources - Hudson farmstead (14GR346)

Excavation of well in Greenwood CountyThe construction of the well at the Hudson farmstead in Greenwood County is shown during the 1994 excavation.






Building foundations at the Hudson site.

Foundations are often the only trace left by a farm house or building.  These foundations were exposed during the 1994 excavations at the Hudson farmstead (14GR346).






Resources - Simair farmstead (14GR354)

Excavation of storm cellar

Archeologists reveal the storm cellar and its construction methods during an excavation at the Simair farmstead in 1994.










Resources - Johnson/Williams dugout (14GH102)

Volunteers and staff excavating and mapping at the Johnson/Williams dugout during the 2007 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school.






Resources - Mahaffie House (14JO356)

Excavations at the Mahaffie HouseVolunteers excavation at the Mahaffie House in 1988.






Resources - Martin farmstead (14RP322)

Excavation at the Martin farmsteadVolunteers excavate at the Martin farmstead during the 1992 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school in Republic County.





Excavation of Martin farmstead cellarA corner of the cellar of the Martin farmstead is exposed during the 1992 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school.





Resources - Cottonwood Ranch (14SD327)

Photograph of Cottonwood RanchA historic photograph showing the house, barn, and out buildings at the Cottonwood Ranch in Sheridan County.




Volunteers are hard at work during the 1990 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school at Cottonwood Ranch.





Resources - Dairy (14WN362)

Silo builder's name at Wilson county dairyA detail from the silo at the Wilson County dairy showing the builder's nae: F. A. Sidler, 1916.





Searching for house foundations in Wilson County.Crew members believe they have found the house foundation at the dairy site in Wilson County in 1995. By using a trench and test pits they believe they have discovered the four corners.

Entry: Farms and Ranches

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2014

Date Modified: February 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.